|Photo: UAR Juan Imhoff scores|
A strong first half performance from Santiago Phelan´s Pumas saw the South Americans complete their preperation for the Rugby Championship in style. The error-ridden performance from six days earlier was not repeated as Argentina produced a far improved performance with the forwards utterly out-playing their Australian opponents. The solid platform which saw the Pumas dominate in the scrum and have the better of play at the break down saw the backs given good opportunities and they responded much better than was the case in La Plata.
The scoring began in the 5th minute with Felipe Contepomi landing a penalty. Two minutes later the first try of the match was scored with Pumas scrumhalf Martín Landajo scoring a solo try after spotting space and running clear. It was converted by Contepomi but Juan Martín Hernández then took the next two attempts at goal. He landed a long range penalty in the 13th minute and converted a try scored by Gonzalo Camacho in the 21st minute. He had a solid match on the right wing to all but wrap-up the starting position and should be partenered by Juan Imhoff who was the starting left winger. Imhoff scored Argentina´s third try and created the fourth as his pace and ability to get through the gap and withstand tackles was evident.
The Waratahs got on the board early in the second half and followed up with several minutes of positive play in the Pumas 22. Argentina held firm, however, and got control back from the visitors. Argentina made a host of changes which saw all players given game time. There were clear cases of some players proving their worth by performing better than the same player in his position. Joaquín Tuculet´s opportunity of starting in the midfield was mixed as he had poor ball handling skills at time but was on hand to support Imhoff when needed. His replacement, Marcelo Bosch, clearly has the 13 shirt on his back already. Similarly the question over inside centre seems to have been cleared up as Felipe Contepomi was better than his replacement Santiago Fernández.
The question over who ought to play flyhalf may also have been clarified as although Lucas González Amorosino was good on counter attack and while Hernández was very effective at flyhalf the final decision very well may see Hernández moving to fullback and Nicolás Sánchez starting and kicking goals. Sánchez was a second half replacement and converted three out of four tries. The tries were scored by Juan Leguizamón, Horacio Agulla, Pablo Matera and Agulla. The try scored by Agulla was from a Sánchez kick in which the Bordeaux-Begles pivot chipped over the defence and a chasing Agulla was able to collect the bounce to score.
All of the try scorers enhanced their reputations with Matera, especially, impressing as his ball carrying skills were arguably comparable to those of Sergio Parisse, Imanol Harinordoquy and Pierre Spies from several years ago. Matera proved to be a more effective ball carrier than the other backrowers including Julio Farías Cabello who was also a replacement. Phelan will now have to see if Matera can start with either Leguizamón or Leonardo Senatore missing out. He will also have to consider not starting secondrower Manuel Carizza due to Mariano Galarza having performed well for a second straight week. Patricio Albacete could therefore find himself locking the scrum with Galarza.